French Polynesia

Police seize 21 kilograms of methamphetamine in French Polynesia

Police in French Polynesia have seized almost $US50 million worth of methamphetamine on a cruise ship from the United States.

A  27-year-old Tahitian passenger has been arrested after the discovery of 21 kilograms of the drug in his luggage.

The authorities say the man had wanted to offload a suitcase when the ship, the MS Zuiderdam was in port in Uturoa on Raiatea.

More than four kilograms of the drug was found in the suitcase.

A subsequent search of his cabin turned up a further 15 kilograms of methamphetamine in other luggage.

Woman permitted to marry dead partner in French Polynesia

The posthumous marriage is the first in French Polynesia's history.

The couple had planned to get married after living together for 39 years, but the groom fell ill and died in hospital in Tahiti on the wedding day.

The couple's family appealed to the French president Emmanuel Macron, who by law can authorise the celebration of the marriage if one of the future spouses has died, after the completion of official formalities indicating unequivocal consent.

French Polynesia vaccination law endorsed by Paris court

Anyone working in healthcare or with the public has to be vaccinated against Covid-19 according to the law adopted in late August.

However, there have been several legal challenges, which prompted the government to defer the law's enforcement from October to December.

An interim ruling had affirmed the law's validity but now the Paris court has given its full approval, which has been welcomed by the government.

A general strike last month failed to get the government to drop the law, which will now be applied from 23 January.

Massive lottery win in French Polynesia

The woman has chosen to remain anonymous, and was given the cheque by representatives of France's lottery games operator FDJ after they arrived from Paris.

The organisation said it was her first time playing, but she had told her grandfather if she did ever play she would win something.

According to media reports, she wants to travel with her family, experience snow for the first time, and might even buy a place on every continent.

She plans to continue working, might open a business and will give money to children in need.

French Polynesia evacuates COVID-19 cases to Paris

There are 50 people in intensive care and this is why the state has chartered an aircraft to fly the patients to Paris.

Another two people have died in the past day, and 167 people are hospitalised.

This takes the death toll to 585 since COVID-19 first hit.

The figures have come down over the past week and La Premier Polynesie website reports this has prompted the government to announce that from Monday some restrictions on movement will be lifted.

New Caledonia

Meanwhile in New Caledonia the pandemic is worsening.

33 COVID-19 fatalities in French Polynesia

350 people are in hospital, and of those 59 are in intensive care, with figures suggesting the outbreak has reached a plateau.

Daily case numbers are no longer made public but exceeded a thousand a day for much of August.

44 fire-fighters and military employees have today arrived from France, joining the more than 150 medical personnel sent by Paris last week.

A lockdown is entering its third week amid reports of stricter controls because of many breaches.

In a weekend incident, police made arrests after dozens partied in defiance of the rules.

Tahiti hospital appeals to Macron

Almost 300 COVID-19 patients are in the main hospital in Papeete, with many others being cared for at home because there are no beds left.

Although France and New Caledonia sent some personnel, the hospital says it needs reinforcements as infection rates remain high.

In a post, the hospital reminded Mr Macron of his visit to the hospital in last month when he said they were all part of France and they would all be protected.

Big surge of COVID-19 cases in French Polynesia

Officials reported 2164 new cases and 13 deaths in the 24 hours to 8am Wednesday (local time).

There are 294 people currently in hospital, including 38 people in intensive care.

The territory now has 7213 active cases.

Since the start of the pandemic 32,705 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in French Polynesia and 224 people have died.

The vast majority occurred after the borders re-opened to tourism in July last year, but the Delta variant is responsible for the latest surge.

Tahiti Vice-President wedding probed for ignoring COVID-19 rules

The marriage event was reportedly attended by President Edouard Fritch and all of the territory's cabinet.

News website Tahiti Infos reports the French High Commission saying that health protocols for mass gatherings were not followed.

The new limits had been imposed after a resurgence of COVID-19 in July saw a massive influx in numbers being admitted to hospital.

These changes require that people attending social events are seated, six per table, with tables one metre apart, no musical or artistic events, and that masks are used extensively.

Tahiti Covid-19 cases near 10,000

89 people with Covid-19 symptoms are in hospital, including 25 in intensive care.

39 people have died.

All but 62 cases were detected after the borders were reopened in July and mandatory quarantine requirements were abolished to boost tourism.

The government has reinstated support payments for those suffering loss of income because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those eligible include people working in hospitality affected by the curfew which was reinstated last month in view of soaring rates of infection.